Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Shadeland Avenue

#27 Marshall-Shadeland

Pittsburgh’s Best Neighborhoods

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Map
Marshall-Shadeland is likely the densest neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s North Hills.

Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Description

Pittsburgh’s Marshall-Shadeland neighborhood has potential but needs improvement. Like the Perry South neighborhood, Marshall-Shadeland’s neighborhood center has the bones to grow into a healthy heart but presently functions more like a suburban strip mall despite its urban design being walkable. The neighborhood center comes together at a hollow between two hills with a graveyard atop one and the soul of Marshall-Shadeland atop the other – Shadeland Avenue.

A common theme has emerged among Pittsburgh’s six North Hills neighborhoods, Marshall-Shadeland included, that they are all quiet neighborhoods that offer excellent alternatives to living in the further-flung Pittsburgh suburbs; they’re dominated by detached single family homes, just like the suburbs; their neighborhood centers have great potential; and they all feel quieter and off the beaten path. There’s less traffic, less congestion, it’s easier to get to day-to-day needs and yet the North Hills is in the middle of everything. When it comes to ranking the North Hills neighborhoods against each other, they all rank very close, and the race to the top includes who has the healthiest neighborhood center. When ranking the neighborhoods against all others within the metro they will all hover around median because they generally follow the recipe that creates great neighborhoods but none of them do it with excellence, Marshall-Shadeland included.

Neighborhood Ranking Criteria

A Front Door

All the North Hills neighborhoods need better front doors and more distinct placemaking.

An Identifiable Center

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Center
Marshall-Shadeland’s neighborhood center has most things you need, including a bank, bar, and church.

Marshall-Shadeland’s center has the fundamentals in place and, therefore, the potential to rapidly improve. It needs some investment both from the private sector and from those with an interest in beautifying and the public realm. Both can be had with a few public/private partnerships.

Boundaries

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Boundary
The border of Marshall-Shadeland into the Chateau consists of bridges.

I huge graveyard and the Chateau neighborhood (which might as well be a graveyard) frame Marshall-Shadeland’s east and west borders. Highway 19, although seemingly just another neighborhood street, is a good divider from California-Kirkbride. The border into Brighton Heights to the north, however, is blurry and could use some distinction.

Density

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Historic
Remnants of a denser neighborhood exist within Marshall-Shadeland.

Marshall-Shadeland appears to be denser than its North Hills peers. Nevertheless, it still lives like a suburban alternative because the housing is predominantly single family detached homes.  

Detached Sidewalks and Street Trees

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Detached Sidewalks
There’s a few detached sidewalks and street trees around the neighborhood. Also, those are nice looking homes.

There are a lot of trees throughout the neighborhood, but few of them are uniform in a line down any given street.

Diverse Architecture and Buildings That Address the Street

There are remnants of a denser, historic neighborhood in Marshall-Shadeland, particularly below the bridges. Many of these old buildings are built right up to the sidewalk with commercial on the ground level and residential above, just like the urban planning gods intended. The homes throughout Marshall-Shadeland are architecturally diverse and predominantly keep eyes on the street.

Mixed Land Uses

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Mixed Land Uses
There are numerous mixed land uses among the predominantly residential homes along Shadeland Ave. Grab some gumbo at Cafe on the Corner.

Marshall-Shadeland does relatively well in the mixed-use category. In addition to the neighborhood center located at the intersection of Woods Run and Brighton Road, Shadeland Avenue has a number of quality commercial uses scaled to the neighborhood.

Street Energy

There is a touch more street energy throughout the neighborhood compared to its North Hills peers thanks to more commercial uses that one can walk to.

Streets That Generally Connect

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood View from the top of the hill
I don’t think that sidewalk is ADA compliant.

Streets throughout the neighborhood connect despite the hilly terrain.

Transit Access

Just regular old buses serve Marshall-Shadeland.

Walkability

Pittsburgh Marshall-Shadeland Neighborhood Shadeland Ave
Shadeland Ave is the heart and soul of the neighborhood.

The neighborhood is more walkable than its North Hills’ peers courtesy of the cool mixed uses on Shadeland Ave. The neighborhood center also has a number of different commercial services.

Opportunities for Improvement

Shadeland Avenue wants to become a cool street. It’s almost there. The city needs to fan those flames with public beautification — i.e., make it look like a cool street. This stuff ain’t complicated. Right now Shadeland is an ugly street that’s propped-up by numerous small businesses that are the sprouts of something special. Beautify Shadeland Avenue and everybody wins.

On a larger scale, the city of Pittsburgh is in desperate need of placemaking initiatives for all the North Hills neighborhoods. A recurring theme of the North Hills is how obscure the neighborhoods and streets within it feel to an outsider. Working with individual neighborhood leaders to identify neighborhood identities, and how individual identities translate to the public realm is a great first step to improve all North Hills neighborhoods. Finally, if the city of Pittsburgh is looking for infill opportunities, look toward the neighborhood centers of the North Hills. They are all worthy of more private investment and the right projects will serve as a shot in the arm to improve neighborhood quality of life.